I recently got totally caught up with new anime so I figured I’d review one of my favorite anime series, Code Geass. Originally started airing in 2006, this 50 episode, 2 season series is one of complex premises, and full of real-world analogies, as in “What would you do with the ability to give anyone a single, irrevocable command?” and “Where is the line between fighting oppression and committing wanton acts of terrorism?”. But, before I go too in-depth, I feel a good synopsis is in need:
The series is set in an alternative present, where the world is split by three superpowers, Britannia, The Chinese Federation, and the European Union. The story takes place after the Holy Britannian Empire’s conquest on Japan in August 10, 2010 a.t.b., by means of Britannia’s newest weapon, the “Armored Autonomous Knight”, or KnightmareFrame. In turn, Britannia effectively strips Japan and its citizens of all rights and freedoms, and renames the country Area 11 with its citizens referred to as elevens.
The series’ protagonist Lelouch Lamperouge is an intellectual, exiled Britannian prince, who was sent as a hostage to Japan, along with his sister Nunnally Lamperouge, by his father, Emperor Charles zi Britannia, after his mother, Marianne vi Britannia, was murdered. He then vows to obliterate Britannia. Seven years later, Lelouch meets a girl known as C.C. who, in order to save his life, makes a contract with him. Lelouch then gains a power called Geass, also known as the Power of the King, which allows him to absolutely command anyone to do what he wants, bending their will to live, fight, die, and follow orders – though only if he has direct eye contact with his target. With this new power and his natural intelligence, Lelouch sets out to find the person who killed his mother, and to make a better world for his sister, Nunally. He becomes the leader of the resistance movement known as The Black Knights, who wage war on Britannia. As the Black Knights’ leader he takes on an alter-ego called Zero, gaining popular support among the Japanese people on his way towards rebellion.
This is a great starter series for mecha, drama, and what I like to call “all around epic” anime types. If you’ve never seen a “mecha” type (i.e. Gundam, IS Infinite Statos), then Code Geass is a series that can introduce you to the general idea, with the Knightmare Frame System; but, if mecha doesn’t tickle your fancy, there’s enough general action and plotline that you can overlook the mecha part (though who wouldn’t get into mechas after seeing the epic final battle between Lelouch and Prince Schniezel?). The drama is also very well done, plenty of twists and turns that keep the viewer guessing as to what the ending could possibly hold in store. As for me, personally, I didn’t see the ending coming, but was ecstatic at the sheer cleverness, ingenuity, and mind-blowingly awesomeness of it. Definitely a great starter series for someone new to anime, the (relatively) short length of 50 episodes also means it won’t kill a whole month of free time to watch.
The animation quality stays solid throughout, and the mechanics are very fluid as well as seemingly realistic (as realistic as giant fighting mobile suits get, anyway). This was also one of those series that stirred up a lot of debate at the end, [Spoiler Alert] like was Lelouch really dead, what about C.C., and what of Geass? [End Spoiler] The ending was clear, but still open to interpretation and discussion. I have several opinions on several issues, but this isn’t the time or place, so… There’s also plenty of additional story arcs to be found in supplemental manga volumes, including one that follows Suzaku’s story and another that focuses on Nunally’s search for her brother, Lelouch, following (in the anime) the end of season 1.
An altogether great series with an amazing story, characters, and visuals, a recommended series for otaku of any maturity, and definitely worth re-watching the next time you have a free weekend.
Until next time,